Lee Da-yeon has ignited her quest for the final individual title of the season.
Lee carded six birdies and no bogeys for a 6-under 66 in the first round of the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour’s SK Shielders-SK Telecom Championship (total prize money of 1 billion won) on Tuesday at Rabiebel Country Club Old Course (Par 72) in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province.
Lee took a one-stroke lead over Lim Jin-hee and set the stage for her third win of the season in the final event of the year.
Lee has finished on top twice this year, at the KLPGA Championship and the Hana Financial Group Championship.
A win here would tie her with Lee Ye-won, Im Jin-hee and Park Ji-young for the most wins on the tour.
With Lee having already clinched the money prize and the grand prize, as well as the top spot in the stroke average, there is only one individual title left to be decided at this tournament – the multiple winner.
Lee made a rare appearance at the tournament as a recommended player.
The nominee system is a way for organizers to allow athletes who are not eligible to compete in a tournament to play, and Lee was nominated because she accidentally missed the SK Shielders-SK Telecom Championship.
The penalty for competing as a recommended athlete is that any prize money won will not be reflected in the prize money rankings.
“It was my mistake to miss the qualification,” said Lee, “I treated the opportunity to play as a bonus and just played casually with the intention of giving my fans a good show for the last time this season, and it worked out well.”
“My iron shots were hitting the distance I thought they would, and I had the best putts I’ve had in a while,” she said.
While some of her birdies were close to the hole, she also made two birdie putts of over 10 meters.
“I’ve never won an individual title, so I’d like to capitalize on my chances of winning multiple titles, but I’ve learned that you can’t win an individual title by being greedy,” said Lee. “It’s going to be colder tomorrow than it was today, so I’ll have to play a more defensive game rather than an aggressive one.”
After falling just short of Lee in the race for the grand prize, Jinhee Lim kept her hopes of a repeat victory alive with five birdies.
With three wins already on the season, a victory would make her the only Korean to win multiple titles.
Chung Soi, ranked 43rd on the money list, shot a 4-under 68 with an eagle on the 10th (par-4) hole, five birdies and three bogeys.
Chung will be looking to avenge an overtime loss at the Isle of Man Open in September.
Bang Shin-shil, the only other two-time winner among rookies, shot a 2-under 70 and is tied for fourth.
Only four players – Lee, Lim, Jinhee, Chung and Bang – were able to shoot under par on the day as players struggled with cold, near-freezing temperatures and fast, firm greens.
Lee, who took home the top prize, grand prize and lowest gross score, carded a 3-over-par 75 with two birdies, a triple bogey and two bogeys.
Lee’s fellow featured player, Park Sung-hyun, finished the first day tied for 13th with a 1-over par 73, while Lee Bomi was tied for 53rd with a 6-over par 78.
Defending champion Park Min-ji, who is coming off a three-week layoff due to nerve pain, struggled, dropping 11 strokes with one birdie, one triple bogey, two double bogeys and five bogeys.
After a final-round 80 at the Lotte Rent-a-Car Open, Park shot an 83, her worst score of the season, to start the day tied for 77th in the field. 먹튀검증